MTG: Cycles of Knowing Dark

Are you, like me, fond of decks that sit around, and powerfully do nothing? Well, do I have a deck for you.

Cycles of Knowing Dark 1.0

Creatures (8)
Archfiend of Ifnir
Curator of Mysteries

Spells (28)
Faith of the Devoted
Censor
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Countervailing Winds
Flaying Tendrils
Consign/Oblivion
Take Inventory

Mana Base (24)
Fetid Pools
Island
Desert of the Mindful
Desert of the Glorified
Swamp

This deck, in its simplest form, is a cycling control deck. You spend lots of your turns just turning your existing cards into piles of cards in the bin. It’s a very pure sort of control deck: You’re trying to get rid of cards you have for cards you don’t have. That doesn’t actually help you win, but you just… you just do a lot of stuff.

Along the way, you will see a lot of other cards – you’ll periodically even want to use some of them. Eventually, you’ll drop either a Faith of the Devoted or Archfiend of Ifnir, and that will eventually win you the game, but it’s very much a byproduct of just doing things and ripping through your deck.

Unsurprisingly, you’re really susceptible to mill and Fraying Sanity.

This deck can win by controlling the board with an Archfiend just neutralising ground forces repeatedly, or when that solution doesn’t work, it goes over your opponents, munching away at their life total with Faith-based drains, which has a side effect of blunting increasing threats from your opponents, which encourages them to spread onto the board in a way that walks into a board sweeper or make a Darkness a gross hand-emptying blowout.

I have never had an opponent destroy a Faith of the Devoted, by the way. It’s been bounced – but never so far hit by a standard destruction spell.

This is not the first build of the deck I’ve been practicing with! I’ve been using Flaying Tendrils as my board sweeper, which is a choice I’m not actually wild about. Originally the deck was using Corrupted Grafstones to advance mana but it didn’t tap for black with a Flaying Tendrils in the bin, and it was also proving that the mana acceleration was less useful than blowing everything up periodically.

Ironically, Bontu’s Last Reckoning kind of wants the mana rocks again, which pulled me towards this:

Cycles of Knowing Dark 1.5

Creatures (8)
Archfiend of Ifnir
Curator of Mysteries

Spells (28)
Faith of the Devoted
Censor
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Corrupted Grafstone
Bontu’s Last Reckoning
Consign/Oblivion
Take Inventory

Mana Base (24)
Fetid Pools
Island
Desert of the Mindful
Desert of the Glorified
Swamp
The overall result is a deck I like a lot, though there are still plenty of ways to make mistakes. The Grafstones often tap for blue and sometimes for black which can mean your first Reckoning is fired off a cluestone and two lands, just because the cycling options for blue are so strong and so often just one mana rather than two.

As this is an exhaustion deck there are some plays which can feel a bit weird when you do them – like Consigning a random enchantment or other permanent on the end step so you can untap and Darkness away their last two cards after the board’s been swept a few times. It really is a Wrath deck – you force your opponent to overextend somehow, then you blow up the board and mop up afterwards. It can’t exactly stall up the ground, but it can leech away life.

Some quick tips:

  • Tap mana rocks for Bontu’s Last Reckoning, every time
  • Don’t cycle away your third tapland on 2 hoping to draw a basic. It won’t happen enough to reward you and you cannot afford to fall behind on mana.
  • You will steal some early plays via Censor and the occasional big greedy pull, but don’t sandbag your Censors waiting for it
  • Archfiend of Ifnir is decent but slow against aggro. If you can’t play it and cycle in the same turn you probably won’t get value out of it.
  • Two Faith of the Devoted is a fast clock, but three doesn’t speed things up as much as you’d think, since you still have to pay the extra 1.

In the end though this deck does what I really like: Casts Take Inventory multiple times.

According to MtgGoldfish and my own price scrounging, this deck is about eight bucks – which includes the Fetid Pools. On this point I want to put out there a detail: Always grab cheap dual lands. If they’re in the colour you play, while they’re standard legal they tend towards being cheap. If they’re available for you, and you can get mileage out of playing them in a few decks, duals will almost always be useful, and over time, your mana base will be the most expensive reusable part of any deck you play.

I may want to play with Kozilek’s Return, but it’s twenty bucks per copy. If I want to play with that, though, it’s one deck, probably an Emerge or Delirium build. It’s not likely to be a deck maker that lets me reuse it over and over again.

In the end, duals will be handy in a lot of decks you play, and hey, this one will almost always cycle back into being handy for you~.

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