Exquisite Bond

exquisite bond 2

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

I recall that it wasn’t that long ago when Exquisite Blood was gaining some casual momentum and people were really trying to build the Exquisite Blood/Sanguine Bond combo deck. It was probably Modern legal most of the time, but not exactly a ‘thing’. Then Magic 2014 happened and they decided to reprint this:


sanguine bond

Looks like a blood donor ad, no?

I instantly wanted to make it work and had the perfect ‘curve’ planned out for it:

Turn 4: Trading Post

Turn 5: Sanguine Bond

Turn 6: Exquisite Blood, win

Of course this implies that you are playing a land every turn here (even the 6th one, since you need to cast the enchantment and activate Trading Post).

It seems good in theory and you can even sub your turn 4 for a Diabolic Tutor to fetch a combo piece if you have a lifegain permanent already in play (Vampire Nighthawk). Of course, things never really work out that way in practice. The format is rather quick in Standard (don’t even get me started on Modern). You will not be afforded the luxury of having a high life total on turn 5. People play decks like Red-Green Aggro and Mono-Red that just rip apart your life total rather quickly.

We have to play the control role early on if necessary in order to achieve our mid to late game combo. For those not familiar with the combo, it’s rather simple:

With both enchantments in play ( Sanguine Bond + Exquisite Blood) either lifegain or opponent life loss will allow us to ‘go infinite’ and win. One enchantment will trigger the other and then loop until we decide to end it (or most likely when the opponent has lost all his life). It offers us a relatively risk-free win condition (barring counterspells, mostly).

exquisite blood

Yummy, yummy, yummy! I got blood in my tummy!

The reprinting of Trading Post inspired a pretty neat way to gain life, thus enabling the combo. It also gave us a great way to stave off some aggro so we may survive long enough to land and activate our combo. In addition to these bonuses, it also allowed us to effectively ‘Warleader’s Helix‘ our opponent each turn with a Sanguine Bond in play. This gives us the ability to win the game without necessarily having to combo. It also gets twice as good if we draw 2 Sanguine Bond instead of our Exquisite Blood (this is the main reason the deck plays a 4/2 split).

While we can still have played the deck without the Trading Post reprint in M14, it allows for some nice possibilities depending on what Theros will bring. If anything we can do sill things with Angelic Accord as well once Exquisite Blood rotates (end of October). Plus goats are big in Greece and Greek mythology, so there’s bound to be a Goat-related card to be released.

trading post goats

I even made a Trading Post playmat for the occasion (Now with more goats!)

We also have a little ‘backup combo enabler’ in Vizkopa Guildmage. He basically acts as Sanguine Bond # 5 in the deck in case our opponent does something nasty to our combo. Something like, oh, I dont know: resolving a Slaughter Games.

Here’s our tidy little decklist:

Exquisite Bond
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
2 Mutavault
14 Swamp

24 Lands

2 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Vizkopa Guildmage

3 Creatures
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Prophetic Prism
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Trading Post
1 Haunted Plate Mail
4 Sign in Blood
4 Mutilate
4 Barter in Blood
2 Exquisite Blood
4 Sanguine Bond
2 Diabolic Tutor

33 Spells


3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Curse of Death’s Hold
2 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Sin Collector
3 Lifebane Zombie
2 Underworld Connections

You’ll notice that the deck is almost entirely monoblack with a few exceptions. In the main, you have Oblivion Ring which pretty much deals with permanent types that black typical cannot deal with (planeswalkers, enchantments and artifacts). It also allows us to play Vizkopa Guildmage as noted earlier.

Lastly, we get to cast Sin Collectors from our sideboard so that we can have a sporting chance against the blue decks ( I would almost be tempted to go with a fourth Sin Collector here).

The ‘final’ decklist underwent a few changes but the core stayed the same: we need to combo to win. It requires more testing, but we discovered this little Return to Ravnica gem:


codex shredder

Straight from your last month’s draft deck

This also, strangely enough, gave us an interesting alternate win condition. While one of these is unlikely to mill out our opponent, two might do the trick. It also fills the role that Nephalia Drownyard did in the Esper Control decks of months past: allows us to dig for cards (artifacts to recover with Trading Post). Lastly, its ‘Regrowth‘ option is just what the deck needed. Lost a combo piece? No need to jam Auramancer into the deck, just keep it all in the Artifact family.

The final list also runs Orzhov Keyrunes over Vampire Nighthawks (to hopefully accelerate into turn 4 Exquisite Blood or Sanguine Bond). While the deck is not 100% perfected, it does showcase an interesting slew of possibilities for this ‘archetype’. It’s not the kind of deck you’ll run to a Grand Prix or Pro Tour Qualifier with, but it’s a blast to try out at your local FNM or even Grand Prix Trial events.

Another route to maybe take here is to squeeze in one or more copies of this limited combo piece:

angelic accord

Wait, what?

We’ve all probably face this plus Bubbling Cauldron in draft or sealed events at our local gaming stores. Now with the ability to ‘Codex Shredder‘ back combo pieces we can go more all out on the enchantments while keeping a decent amount of artifacts and 0 creatures. We can pretty much make almost all of our opponent’s creature removal spells dead cards. If you absolutely must run a creature because not having any in your deck makes you a little uncomfortable, might I suggest one of these two:

blood baron of vizkopa

If he connects once, he can get the Angelic Accord ball rolling

If you have ever had to face off against this you surely know how much of a pain he can be to play against. Barring mass removal or cards like Mizzium Mortars, this guy is nigh-unkillable. It may sound a little exaggerated, but there are very few commonly played removal cards that can deal with him. Sure, he can get countered. We can still get him back if need be with a Codex Shredder every other turn (except if he was Dissipated).

He just keeps us in the game and can pretty much end it on his own even without the combo in play, thanks to his second ‘Achievement unlocked’ ability. Opponent at 10 life or less? Swing in and win!

of course, there’s the ‘safer’ pick:


The Orzhov would like to have a word …

These Orzhov guys are good at dodging removal spells. While Obzedat is almost immune to mass removal and sorcery speed removal due to his ‘blink out for the turn’ ability, he is often going to get hit by the removal spells that the Blood Baron won’t. I’m talking about Putrefy, Murder, Orzhov Charm and the list goes on. Luckily, not many of those are really played (except for Putrefy in Jund builds). He slowly drains your opponent and simply casting him with the combo pieces in play will give you the game. No need to attack or anything, that would be un-Orzhov-like.

One little piece of removal both cards should watch out for (or almost any creature should, for that matter) is Turn/Burn.

turn burn

Stops almost any critter dead in its tracks 

Oh well! we can’t win them all, eh? From dealing with Thragtusk to Angel of Serenity, this little spell does wonders. It’s not commonly played at the moment aside from being a 2-of in various Red-White-Blue or ‘USA’ Flash builds.

If you are very concerned with your one creature getting countered you might be tempted to run a copy or two of Cavern of Souls. Don’t! It will ruin your mana base and just not be worth it in the big picture. If you doubt that, I invite you to experiment a little. That is why there is no real ‘finalized’ decklist. It’s more of a basic shell that you can customize according to your local metagame. Feel free to try things with the deck and reply with some results even.

After the end of September the deck will lose Exquisite Blood but it will still be mostly legal in some new form no doubt (possible with another splash color or just new colors altogether). Who knows? The only semi-engine to build around a bit will be Angel’s Accord and Trading Post. We know that Theros is going to be an ‘enchantment matters’ set, so we might be able to dust off those Underworld Connections we’ve been saving and create something spicy.

underworld connectiosn wallpaper

Speaking of Underworld Connections, I ‘ve been trying to find space for 2 in the main deck but it seems a little tight. 

Have fun experimenting and happy brewing!

Magic 2014: Wrap-Up Part 2

m14 logo




Altar’s Reap

As far as the reprints in this set go, this is one of the better ones. I like it in both limited and constructed since it serves as both a sacrifice outlet and card draw. Works best with zombies like Gravecrawler and its partner in crime: Geralf’s Messenger


Artificier’s Hex

artificier's hex


Some innovation



Wow! Wizards is giving Black a nice new toy and some added reach versus artifacts, well more specifically Equipment.

I like the flavor of this: if there is a living being within the equipment, they get crushed within it. While it doesn’t technically ‘destroy’ the equipmen, we can all agree that the equipment has pretty much been rendered useless. Except of course:


haunted plate mailI really do love this card

Blood Bairn

blood bairn

Ack! a little vampire child

Ah yes, the obligatory Vampire Aristocrat reprint. Although it’s technically weaker since it cannot sacrifice itself.


Child of Night

M14 Vampires are back in full force. Well, actually it looks more like the second string line-up of Vampires.


Dark Favor

Can’t have the white without the black eh?


Diabolic Tutor

diabolic tutor

They really don’t want the new Commander players to miss out on this

Go go Combo decks!

Gnawing Zombie

gnawing zombie


Aw! such a cute Zombizzle! Can we keep it?


Blood Artist with stats and a sac ability, kind of. It’s definitely not unplayable.


Liturgy of Blood

liturgy of blood


This card does not harbor vast potential, regardless of its flavor text

It’s not horrible since you get 3 mana back, but it still actually requires you to have 5 mana to cast. I really hate it personally. Then again, it’s a common so it’s not horrible in limited and perhaps some Pauper decks.


Mind Rot

Can we hope for more new art? Would it make the card better? Nope and Nope.



Nightwing Shade


nightwing shade

Back to haunt your dreams


Shade abilities plus flying = Yay!

almost double the cost to play and activate the abilities = Boo!


Sanguine Bond

sanguine bond


So now we get about 3 months or so of the 2 black enchantment combo. For those of you who are not aware, it comboes with this:

exquisite bloodAll that is required is one point of damage for the whole thing to go off (or one loss of life)

So basically play one on turn 5, then the other on turn 6 and drop a land. Play something like Shock and laugh maniacally because you are truly and ‘Evil Genius’.


Because -2/-2 might actually kill a few creatures and we can’t have that now can we?


Vile Rebirth

Not a terrible reprint, no a great one either. I suppose it may find its way into more eccentric sideboards that are seeking to disrupt reanimator strategies.


Wring Flesh

This actually saw some play when it was in M12, so I wouldn’t be surprised that it does so again in M14. Sure Disfigure is sill probably better but we can’t have ‘everything’ in Magic 2014.




Academy Raider

academy raider

Not too shabby for a little red common


A cute little common that provides some aggro as well as card filtering, so you can hold those lands in your grip and wait for something better to potentially come along.

It would have been much better as a forced discard without the ‘if you do’ clause, obviously. Not sure how high these will go in draft.


Burning Earth

burning earth

There is no escape


So we get a Manabarbs variant which encourages you to play monocolored decks and punishes your opponents that probably play 2-5 color decks. I like it personally, since it’s rather obvious they would not print a hate card like Blood Moon in standard.

Burning Earth is sure to find its way into numerous sideboards for the full year or so that it will be legal in Standard, s pick up your playset now while they’re cheap.

Cyclops Tyrant

cyclops tyrant

Nice flavor text

I don’t think Cyclops’es’ were meant to get any better than this guy



demolishPillage is not coming back, ever

Guess they had to bring this back with Acidic Slime not coming back to the party in M14.

Dragon Egg

dragon egg

A variation of Rukh Egg

You crack the egg and out comes a little Furance Whelp. Not too shabby. Block with it early on then go on the offensive in the late game.

Goblin Shortcutter

There’s usually one of these in Core Sets for limited purposes.



Beautiful Hate

Being a fan of Wayne Reynolds, I absolutely adore the art on this card. Moving on to the card itself – I must say it’s really better than I expected. Its base stats are really nice and its hate ability can get out of hand quickly.

Of course it somewhat harms opponents casting Sphinx’s Revelation but it does a lot versus cards like Think Twice and Azorius Charm as well as Snapcaster Mage (which usually flashes back a blue/White spell). Of course you can always redirect the 2 damage to an opposing planeswalker which is really nice. It also trades with cards like Boros Reckoner which is really valuable since that is one really huge roadblock for a lot of red decks.

Overall I think Wizards of the Coast did a superb job on all the color hate cards. While they do not hose opposing colors, they do become a thorn in their side and give you a good enough advantage over them. I really prefer them over the instant color hate cards ( Flashfreeze, Combust, Celestial Purge, Autumn’s Veil and Deathmark).


The new shatter is back for good.



A nice limited combat trick that can potentially double as the poster for the next Thor movie.


Volcanic Geyser

The instant Blaze finisher in red-based draft or sealed decks


Wild Guess

Works great with…oh wait, Squee was reprinted in Modern Masters


Wild Ricochet

wild ricochet

It’s been a while

It’s really nice to have this card back in the Standard format. I do remember that it was rather effective against a certain card called Cryptic Command. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

Similarly, I believe it can help combat cards like Warleader’s Helix and Sphinx’s Revelation. While you do not get the full benefit in the case of Revelation, it still nets you life and cards (Good!). In the case of Helix, it can pretty much close a game out if your opponent was in ‘Survival Mode’. It will still only net 4 damage overall, since he will helix himself, but gain 4 life (effectively blanking his copy) and then your copy can simply deal 4 to him.

That about ends this Previews article. Be back soon for the final one where we take a look at Green , Artifacts and Lands.

m14 promo coupon final