Here’s to one very special pile of cards. Thomas Ashby (TA), proud Toronto Citizen of Brass and lover of Magic cards, has built and refined his ‘Blasphemer’ deck over the last couple years. Maybe you came across it at Eternal Week-End last year, or at Toronto’s own Fire Ball and Winter Blast. What’s for certain is, he did not go unnoticed at Montréal Tundra Wolves Challenge 3, where Blasphemer was in fact awarded the Most Creative deck award!
To celebrate this, we thought we’d share some of the rad lore Thomas presented us when he submitted his deck for Most Creative. But before, real quick, let’s travel back in time and have a look at how the project shaped up, in collab’ with past and present Thomas. So, what’s it about?
« The first iteration of my current deck was my own spin on Dead Guy Ale, powerless, Juzamless but unapologetically mine. Ive always loved the juxtaposition of good and evil being allies to shore up each others shortcomings. […] So the pursuit continues. After looking at all creatures in the format, I kept coming back to one card, THE one. […]
[…] Lord of the Pit… the card that is instantly recognizable as iconic yet something that pretty much nobody would play… right?… i mean.. 7/7.. cant be Terrored.. flys.. and tramples… for 7 mana… hmmm… (dies to Swords but ill take 7 life) cant be that bad once his tiny drawback is dealt with.
Its also is in my humble opinion, one of the most metal cards in magic the gathering ever! and placates the side of me that was once also a lord of the pit (mosh/slam pit) » (TA, on the Citizen of Brass blog)
So, without further ado. Let’s have a look at his early work from fall of 2019, at the Toronto Fire Ball — that he friggin’ TOP 8 !!!
I will let you figure the blueprint out, but geez… what a stunner! This was admittedly a more midrangey iteration in comparison with what’s coming up. You can already tell, however, that Thomas has a taste for sweet synergies.
Who’s still doubting Jalum Tome’s power at this point and time by the way? To them I respond: empirical evidence, right there. Jalum Tome Powered Lord of the Pit brew Top 8’ing. A Timmy’s dream, ain’t it?
Going forward, Thomas made some notable changes: -1x Resurrection, -1x Greater Realm of Preservation, -1x Demonic Hordes, -4x Hymns (to SB, he would soon regret); +2nd Serra Angel, +2x Moat, +1x Diamond Valley, +1x Time Walk, +1x All Hallow’s Eve (a dud, he says) and +1x Mox Sapphire.
This led him, in the late fall of 2019, to earn the 15th Most Creative deck award at Eternal Weekend, in Pittsburgh! With this list:
With Moat to stall the board until invincible creatures get summoned or reanimated or plain stolen (!), we can see that Thomas is taking a more controlley route this time, yet still leaning on some very diverse synergies on the center stage.
For winter 2020, he notably opted out on the 3rd Jalum Tome, -1x Sengir Vampire, -1x All Hallows’ Eve, -1x Recall, and then -1x Strip Mine and -1x Factory; opting in on fucking +1 Gwendlyn di Corci (!), +1x Mirror Universe and also bringing +3x Hymns back to the main, while dabbling around with the mana-base. This iteration led him to a very respectable 14th place overall finish at the Toronto Winter Blast:
But in my humble opinion (and the TWC3 Most Creative deck award jury seems to agree), it is really for Montréal’s Tundra Wolves Challenge 3 that Blasphemer went over the top and all the way into juicy synergies territory, RAMPING UP the Spice Factor:
Is it combo or control? Is it midrange or, dare we say, toolbox? YES. I’ll let Thomas break down some of the most interesting synergies of his TWC3 version for us, on top of the quintessential Preacher activation into feeding Lord of the Pit that’s probably archetype-defining:
« Preacher + Diamond Valley = Steal and sacrifice opponents creatures to gain life.
Preacher + Kry Shield = Avoids being bolted.
Diamond Valley + Kry Shield + Lord of the Pit = [gain] 14 Life. 9 with Serra ? [Ditto] with opponents creatures after they are stolen with Preacher;
Mirror Universe + Lord of the Pit = Take 7 during upkeep. Mana burn myself to 7, then attack with the Lord for 7.
Spirit Link + Lord of the Pit = Take 7 on Upkeep, gain 7. Then attack for 7 and gain 7. » (TA) … And the list goes on.
It’s mindblowing that with the effort he’s put in it, Thomas made this work, with completely outside-of-the-box spells. And there’s the massive SWAG… Yet at the same time, Blasphemer perfectly embodies the magic of yore, slinging spells for hours against your best friend on the living room rug. Hats off.
Anyways, before we dive into his lore write-up that will surely make your inner Melvin drool, let’s mention that we will further cover Blasphemer along some other sweet or spicy brews from TWC3, on an upcoming Spice Files podcast, so stay tuned — And shout out to Mike Van Dyke and Dave Firth Bard for the great content, while at it! UPDATE: the Spice File episode where we further analyse Blasphemer, as well as some other spicy brews from Tundra Wolves Challenge 3 is up!!!
So here we go, I’ll leave you to this, which was actually included (both in french and english!) with his Most Creative deck submission (a labor of love, I tell ya!):
« After days traversing the Scrubland, a lone Wizard approached the darkened monestary sitting atop a cliff overlooking the fabled Diamond Valleys.
Noting an absence of life, he wearily approached the rotting wooden drawbridge. It was covered in moss and gave way to a grand Moat. Luckily the bridge was down. He carefully approached. Reaching the door he noted it was etched with a face almost anguished. A symbol he recognized, it was the Kry Shield.
Hearing stories about a mass that was led by fervent Preachers, who coerced the feeble minded to join their unholy clergy. He was almost hesitant to continue.
Resolute to see the validity of this myth, the Wizard pressed on.
Inside the vestibule it was deafeningly quiet, almost too quiet. Artifacts lined the walls of the grand entrance. A large mirrior which seemed to almost taunt him with otherworldly revelations and beside it, an Orb seemingly floating as its chaotic gaze almost beseeched the now frightened Wizard.
Wearily moving along the corrodor to the main entrance, nothing could prepare the wizard for what he saw next. Out of thin air, a hymn arose, disrupting his thoughts as if to empty his mind.
Just then a voice shot out in the dimly lit cathedral.
“WELCOME! We have been expecting you, our guest of honour”
Baffled, the Wizard recoiled in fear. He realized he was beckoned by none other, than the Preacher he wished to speak with.
The Preacher was wearing glasses, his eyes ablaze with a shade of bright amber. His choice of eyewear seemed familiar, something that he had seen only drawings of in ancient Dominarian text.
“They couldnt be…” the Wizard stammered.
They were. The Glasses of Urza.
He felt as if the preacher was staring through his soul. His innermost thoughts no longer his own.
The preacher began reading from a forbidden text. Usually the Jayemdae Tome was the perscribed text for holy ceremonies. This was much darker, the Jalum Tome. Nothing gained without sacrifice.
As the book was read, a deafening crescendo of earthly rubble and the low moan of screams filled the Wizard’s ears. So offensive, he turned and ran to the entrance from whence he came passing the mirror which was now illuminated with an evil presence and the Chaos Orb now turning slowly emitting a fierce red glow from its orifices.
Soon finding himself outside, he was instantly restrained by what he would later find out were Nevenyrral tentacles, rising from the darkness of the Moat. Helpless, the wizard was now forced to witness a true abomination. The Resurrection, a conjuring of the one true Lord.
The Lord of the Pit. An impossibly large and imposing monster.
The wizard knelt in servatude, for this is what he was seeking all along. His soul now a willing offering, to be given wholly to the darkness.
In a low wretched growl the demon spoke.
“Blasssspheeemerrr…..” » (TA)
See further coverage of Tundra Wolves Challenge 3 (T.O. Report) ;
Or dive deeper into Blasphemer, check out the Spice Files podcast episode on Tundra Wolves Challenge 3 spicy brews!
Or take a look at Laurence’s recollection of the tournament piloting his Evil Enchantress brew!