Samite Belcher

7th Ed in Standard - Megrim Deck.

As soon as I saw the spoiler for 7th I noticed Megrim was back and when this card is combined with Urza's Guilt you can do 10 points of damage to your opponent!, not bad I thought so I started looking at ways to make this combo into a competitive T2 deck.

Soon afterwards I saw an article on Mindripper by Gary Talim on the same subject and took some time to analyze his deck. It soon became apparent that we had some common ideas and a basic "core" of the same cards, they are…

4 Megrim
4 Urza's Guilt
4 Opt
4 Acc. Knowledge
4 Probe
4 Nether Spirit
4 Recoil

Gary went for 3 Recoil and Spirits so he could include 2 Fact or Fiction but ignoring this small difference the "core" was the same.

The main problem this deck has is lasting long enough to cast Urza's Guilt. If you want to cast it twice to win then you are going to take 8 damage, thus leaving you in a position where you only have 12 life and can afford to take only 11 damage. But, if you only cast it once then 10 damage has to come from somewhere else. So you need to play out Megrim and then make your opponent discard 5 cards. This all takes time, and poses the question what is your opponent doing while you faff about drawing cards to get the Megrim down and then make him discards stuff? Well they will either sit there and counter the Megrim and Guilt or they will play out critters that are reducing you life total of 11 !! Not good! You need board control. Gary completed his deck with the following…

4 Dark Ritual
4 Duress

Now, I don't know about you, but that isn't going to stop a hoard of critters or a hand full of counters either. Remember that this is a Critter heavy metagame and although Duress is an excellent card that can take out a Fires or a Burst it isn't going to stop the critters. Dark Ritual is good for speed but next to useless late game and I can't see the advantage the early speed will do you, as the only turn one card playable with the Ritual is Megrim. And although this is a main part of the deck there isn't any quick discard to follow it up with other than Duress, to get in 10 points of damage. The best you can hope for is turn one Megrim followed by a Duress or two and then hopefully a Guilt and then either a probe with kicker (leaving your opponent on 4-6 life) or another Guilt and then something to do the extra 4-6 damage for the win. How often will that happen? There is a real need for speed here as no board control means no time to waste. The deck needs some solidity. I am a fan of decks that contain good quality cards that can be useful at all times rather than decks that win IF they see all the key cards in the correct order, and lose horribly if they don't.

It's all about solidity and quality. I want a deck that has a focused goal and that is difficult to beat.

So, I feel the deck needs to focus on "something" to keep you alive!
Lets keep the Megrim, Guilt, Opt, Acc.Know and Probe and look at other possibilities for the other 4 slots.

1, Bounce

4 Recoil
4 Boomerang
4 Hoodwink
4 Spirits

What these cards do is say I need time to set things up so I'll bounce all the problems away until I can find/cast Guilt twice. The Spirits let you off a small critter or a Derm. I can take 11 damage remember so this could well be the answer. These cards also help with keeping cards in your opponent's hand to make the turn 5 Probe with kicker more painful. The recoil helps too, infact all 12 cards can also attack your opponent's Mana base.

2, Counters

4 Spirits
12 Counterspells

Counters are obviously a good way to hold things up and so you would probably go for spells like Forced Spike, Daze and Counterspell. All of which can be cast quickly and cheaply enabling you to cast the Opts and Acc.Knowl's as soon as possible. On the down side this makes for a below-par Nether-Go deck and if counters are your thing then you'll probably do without the Megrim and Guilt altogether and play a more conventional deck. The other problem with these quick counters is that 8 of them can be avoided by keeping one land untapped. This does slow your opponent but not by much.

3, Blockers

4 Nightscape Famliars
4 Drudge Skeletons
4 Chilling Apparition
4 Rats

These guys combine regeneration and discard, both elements are good for the deck and could keep you alive long enough for the rest of the deck to work. They could also do a little damage too. On the down side they can't deal with Flyers and Trample but those things usually take time to get and that's all you need, TIME.

4, Fish and Chips!

4 Vodalian Hypnotist
4 Vodalian Merchant
4 Shoreline Raider
4 Lord of the Sea!

These dudes also work well with the deck as the Hypnotist's discard ability can help and the Merchants card cycling ability also works well. The shoreline Raider has Protection from Kavu but is probably better dropped for a cheaper fishy. The Lord is, as ever, vulnerable to most things but gives Island walk and +1/+1 to all the fishes. On the down side, Void for 2 can hurt and these guys don't regenerate but their main job is to block, delay and draw burn spells away from your head so again could be the answer.

5, Discard

4 Addle
4 Bog Down
4 Duress
4 Spirits

This leaves you nothing other than 4 Spirits to deal with anything you opponent drops. I can't see this working at all, because you need to empty the guys hand quickly and if you do that then you can't play the card drawing spells quickly enough.

6, Removal

4 Dark Banishing
4 Spirits

8 Removal Spells that don't hurt you, so no Vendetta or Snuff Out and Annihilate is too slow.
Hmm, this is not going to work either as you will either take too much damage from the cheap spells or you have to wait too long for the Annihilates.

Ok so now I'm totally F****** tortured! And still don't know which selection is best but what I do know is not to use Discard, Counters or Removal.
That leaves us Fish, Blockers or Bounce. Blockers are a nice idea but I just can't see a competitive T2 deck running off a load of Regenerating dudes and the logistics of keeping mana available to regenerate them isn't good for the deck, so I'll drop that idea.
That now gives us a choice between Fish and Bounce.
Fish are weak but the bonus abilities really help the deck, whereas Bounce can deal (in the short term) with almost anything and hassle your opponent's land, but can't reduce your opponent's life total.

Sideboard Options

Well I can't really argue with Gary here, so it looks the same

4 Counterspells
4 Undermine
4 Submerge
3 Hibernate

The only possible change I may make is in inclusion of Misdirection as there is no Chill in Standard and that means beware of Red. I am positive that Red will do well at the National Championships, mark my words!

I'm not saying these are the only ways to play Megrim, as I'm sure there are others, but this may be the best way. Or, Megrim with Urza's Guilt just isn't strong enough to support a Tier one standard deck, and Megrim needs to be played with something else.


Well I have had some time to test the two decks against a Fires deck with NO bursts in and it doesn't win! Neither of them, damn it ! Well maybe if I try those regenerators again….

Comments welcome…

Stuart Haffenden