Capricious Hellraiser
23, Apr, 23

New Combo Deck Wins By Cloning Phyrexian Dragons

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Article at a Glance


As March of the Machine was only released recently the new Standard meta is still a work in progress. Many questions are still up in the air at the moment. Will battles make a major impact, or are they just a gimmick? Will any of the double-sided Praetors see significant play? Will someone brew a viable Ghalta and Mavren build to turn this Dino-Vampire tag team into the scourge of Standard?

One new strategy, known as “Grixis Hellraiser” or “Grixis See Double” is getting a bit of attention. This strategy was used occasionally during the Phyrexia: All Will Be One meta, but March of the Machine has given it a powerful new tool. It isn’t necessarily the most viable strategy, and it may not end up as a tier-one deck, but it’s certainly very exciting. The deck wins by making a huge number of cloned dragons while recurring powerful cards from the graveyard.

The Key Cards

Capricious Hellraiser and See Double

The essential strategy of Grixis Hellraiser is to make use of the synergy between the cards Capricious Hellraiser and See Double to win games.

Capricious Hellraiser is a 4/4 Phyrexian Dragon that costs three Red mana and three mana of any color. The cost of the Hellraiser is reduced to just three Red when there are nine or more cards in its controller’s graveyard.  When Capricious Hellraiser enters play its controller exiles three random cards from their graveyard, they can then cast a non-creature, non-land card exiled this way without paying its mana cost.

See Double, meanwhile, is an instant that costs two Blue and two mana of any color. When See Double is cast it can either create a token copy of a creature in play or duplicate a spell currently being cast. If the opponent has eight more cards in their graveyard, It can do both of these effects

The common thread linking these cards is the fact that they both care about the graveyard, so Grixis Hellraiser decks attempt to fill both their own and the opponent’s graveyard as quickly as possible using cards like Invasion of Amonkhet and Jace, the Perfected Mind.

Both of these cards can be used together to eventually fill the board with a horde of flying Phryexian Dragons.

The Game Plan

  1. In the early game, this deck tries to fill the graveyard. It maintains a board presence through cards like Corpse Appraiser and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker which can both block and load the graveyard.
  2. Eventually, the deck attempts to cast Capricious Hellraiser, aiming to get it out for the discounted rate of three Red mana due to its effect. As the Hellraiser enters play it will provide some value by copying some spells from the graveyard, but it won’t do anything too crazy just yet…
  3. Once a copy of Capricious Hellraiser is in play, it can be targeted by a copy of See Double to generate a clone. If See Double is cast after another spell, and the opponent has at least eight cards in their graveyard, it can also duplicate the card being cast before it.
  4. The cloned Hellraiser activates its enter the battlefield ability, exiling cards from the graveyard. It has the potential to exile a copy of See Double enabling it to be cloned again and for this cycle to be repeated.
  5. Once the skies have been filled with swarms of Hellraisers, the opponent can be attacked for lethal.

Why Does This Work?

Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed something slightly strange about this strategy. See Double has a clause stating “this spell cannot be copied”, as such how is it possible for the Hellraiser to cast copies of See Double from the graveyard? The cannot be copied clause on See Double only prevents it from being duplicated when it is a spell on the stack, this is to prevent the card from targeting itself with its copying ability and thus going infinite. When See Double is just a card in the graveyard it can legally copied, thus enabling its combo with Capricious Hellraiser to work.


There we have Grixis Hellraiser…

The deck is vulnerable to Aggro decks, which may be able to beat it down before it can get its game plan off the ground. It also requires a rather expensive mana base, because it is a tri-color deck that runs a key card with three red pips in its mana cost. All the same, there’s no feeling on Earth like destroying your opponent with an army of cloned dragons.

Read more: Giant Wurm One of Only Two Creatures in Powerful Izzet Deck

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