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Thread: Cat Pact Fever

  1. #1

    Cat Pact Fever

    'Cat Pact' was the name given to a combo/control deck that was briefly in Standard, from when Eldritch Moon was released until Origins rotated when Kaladesh was printed. The deck used Demonic Pact to control the board and generate advantage, and then when it only had the final option remaining you either bounce it with some sort of Echoing Truth effect to replay it again later for more value, or use Harmless Offering (hence the 'Cat' in the deck name) to donate it to the opponent - at which point they are forced to choose the 4th option in their upkeep and lose the game.

    In modern I want to try this in a shell built around Bring to Light, similar to the BTL Scapeshift decks. Playing many Donate in your deck is not very good and you aren't sad about using BTL to play a 3 drop spell because it wins the game anyway

    Pros compared to Scapeshift:
    - "Play a bunch of ramp then play BTL to win the game" is not as good as "Play Pact then play BTL to win the game" in the sense that Divination + Warleaders Helix + Mind Rot is much better value for 4 mana than Hunting Wilds or whatever (it actually helps you draw cards to find the Bring to Light, for starters, then shoot down a creature to live longer, mind rot to disrupt the opponent and help your key spell resolve).
    Cons compared to Scapeshift:
    - The deck is not as threat dense (or not as 'redundant', however you want to think about it) because once you ramp into 7 lands playing BTL is GG, or playing Scapeshift is GG, but with Pact you have to actually draw the Pact and then find BTL/donate as well

    List:

    // 60 Maindeck
    // 2 Creature
    1 Snapcaster Mage
    1 Elusive Tormentor

    // 4 Enchantment
    4 Demonic Pact

    // 17 Instant
    4 Cryptic Command
    4 Remand
    2 Abrupt Decay
    1 Electrolyze
    2 Worldly Counsel
    2 Fatal Push
    1 Wipe Away
    1 Careful Consideration

    // 24 Land
    3 Island
    2 Swamp
    1 Forest
    1 Mountain
    1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    4 Misty Rainforest
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Overgrown Tomb
    1 Stomping Ground
    1 Breeding Pool
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Steam Vents
    4 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Lumbering Falls
    1 Sunken Ruins

    // 13 Sorcery
    4 Bring to Light
    1 Harmless Offering
    1 Damnation
    1 Maelstrom Pulse
    2 Thoughtseize
    2 Search for Tomorrow
    2 Inquisition of Kozilek


    // 7 Sideboard

    // 2 Creature
    SB: 1 Obstinate Baloth
    SB: 1 Platinum Emperion

    // 5 Sorcery
    SB: 1 Shatterstorm
    SB: 1 Crumble to Dust
    SB: 1 Slaughter Games
    SB: 1 Madcap Experiment
    SB: 1 Persecute

    The main shell of the deck was borrowed from Devon Smith's BTL Scapeshift deck from GP Brisbane because I know that he plays that deck religiously and I think he should have a reasonable idea of how the deck is supposed to look

    Remand and Cryptic are very good with Pact. Remand delaying the game is great because in the meantime you will get upkeep triggers. In addition to Cryptic being generally very strong it also can bounce Pact back to your hand (and the fog mode does the same thing in terms of accumulating upkeep triggers).

    I am only playing 2 Search for Tomorrow as ramp because while having some assistance to fix colors and get to 4 mana is good, unlike the Scapeshift version there's no real reason to want 7+ lands in play. I still play 2 Worldly Counsel because Impulse is a pretty strong card that these 4 color control decks are uniquely positioned to take advantage of (digs deep to help assemble the 'combo').

    I wanted 1 Slot as a "BTL for Card Advantage" option, hence Careful Consideration. Concentrate or Ancestral Vision would also be ok (I think these are probably better than Compulsive Research or Steam Augury but let me know if you think of something else)

    I also wanted 1 slot as a "BTL for some kind of game-winning threat" option, and I went with Elusive Tormentor. All the Hexproof/Indestructible/Evasion seems like exactly what I am looking for (the other choice could be something like Reaper of the Wilds or Thrun, or maybe Kalitas, but the shroud is really important when you have no other creatures because without it whatever you put into play will probably just die immediately). I don't think there is an instant or sorcery option that functions as a similar game-ending threat for 4 mana or less. (Startled Awake is a cute idea but suffers from the same problem of being a path to exile magnet).

    One Wipe Away just to have an un-interactable way to save yourself from your own Pact (especially important as while BTL is certainly counterable, going BTL into Wipe Away dodges Spell Queller which has been gaining popularity lately).

    I thought about playing Madcap Experiment maindeck with Platinum Angel as the target as a 4/4 flying threat that protects you from Pacts, but again, it suffers from the same problem of being the only creature and therefore a huge removal magnet. It or Emperion could still be a good consideration for the sideboard.

    The rest of the deck is just generic interactive cards. A selection of BTL bullets are shown as possible sideboard options. The mana is okay but getting more than UUUBBRG is probably too hard hence why nothing with double red or green (e.g. I probably wouldn't want to play Anger of the Gods or Eternal Witness because I think the mana just isn't good enough). I don't normally play decks with very complex manabases so feel free to make any suggestions here.

    Edit: Spring // Mind might be better than search for tomorrow if we instead plan to play a Discard spell on turn 1 as the aftermath half is very powerful as insurance against flooding out.
    Last edited by kombatkiwi; 08-22-2017 at 12:18 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: Cat Pact Fever

    Update:

    1 Snapcaster Mage
    1 Eternal Witness
    1 Platinum Emperion

    4 Bring to Light
    4 Demonic Pact
    4 Cryptic Command
    1 Madcap Experiment
    1 Gifts Ungiven
    1 Damnation
    1 Pulse of Murasa
    1 Harmless Offering
    1 Wipe Away
    1 Maelstrom Pulse
    2 Spring // Mind
    1 Abrupt Decay
    2 Worldly Counsel
    3 Inquisition of Kozilek
    3 Thoughtseize
    2 Fatal Push

    1 Breeding Pool
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Stomping Ground
    1 Overgrown Tomb
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Fetid Pools
    1 Sunken Ruins
    3 Island
    2 Swamp
    1 Mountain
    1 Forest
    4 Verdant Catacombs
    4 Misty Rainforest
    1 Urborg
    1 Lumbering Falls

    Sidebooard
    1 Shatterstorm
    1 Crumble to Dust
    1 Academy Ruins
    1 Shimian Specter
    1 Life from the Loam
    1 Torrential Gearhulk
    1 Languish
    1 Ancient Grudge
    1 Slaughter Games
    1 Engineered Explosives

    - I don't think the 'Elusive Tormentor' role is what the deck wants, using a BTL on this card is generally undesirable because in an interactive matchup a BTL is a resource you want to save in order to make sure you get a Pact off. Tutoring down a Tormentor and then backing it up with a Pact is generally not a winning move because your opponent can fog the Tormentor for a few turns with any removal and now you're choked on finding/protecting a way for the Pact to not kill you. You can play Tormentor and then hold the pact but now you are virtual-card-disadvantaging yourself while hoping that a 4/4 can race whatever the opponent is doing, and it still dies to Liliana -2. I'm still keeping this card in mind because as far as I'm aware it's the only 'Morphling' that exists at 4 mana, but right now I don't think it's very good.

    - The Emperion combo is moved to the maindeck because it's significantly problematic for a lot of opponents to deal with and the cost of running it isn't too high (it does get boarded out a reasonable amount but I think that's acceptable)

    - Remand got cut for more targeted discard. This is an important change to illustrate how the deck plays. While it is true that time-walking an opponent while you have a Pact down is good, having ways to strip your opponents hand is often more valuable because it makes it harder for the opponent to play around the Mind Rot effect. Against opponents with counterspells, they will often see a critical turn coming when Pact is ticking up and hold up all their mana to fight over it. When you are casting 5 mana BTL it is therefore often impossible to protect it with Cryptic Command (9 mana, hello) or Remand (7 mana is still a lot and their Logic Knot will go back to their hand so they can just play it again) so it is much stronger to be able to snipe their hand in a prior turn.

    - Because there are now 6 1-mana discard spells there's no justification for playing Search for Tomorrow for curve reasons, but I still want something for ramp/fixing, so I cut Search for Spring//Mind which still curves nicely into BTL on turn 4 and has a very powerful flashback mode.

    - Despite previously saying GG mana is too hard, I think 1 Eternal Witness has been working well, it's very good with Cryptic Command (maybe this is a Magical Christmas Land scenario though) and it can still just be a wonky Snapcaster or Civic Wayfinder.

    - I added 1 Pulse of Murasa, which forms a lifegain loop with Eternal Witness (you can assemble it 'naturally', or if you really need this lifegain you can BTL for Witness, rebuy the BTL, then BTL for Pulse). It's good with Snapcaster and also fine just on a land

    - The 4 mana 'value instant' got changed to Fortune's Favor for a while (pet card alert) and then I remembered Gifts Ungiven exists, which is very good once all these value recursion cards are included. You can Gifts for something like Snap, Cryptic, Pulse of Murasa, Eternal Witness, so you get a lot of value no matter what. If you need 1 specific card (e.g. Damnation) you can also build a pile which will guarantee you can get it. After sideboarding you have access to piles with Loam and Academy Ruins, which works because generally in matchups where you need to out-value the opponent so much Platinum Emperion is not good, so you can cut Madcap Experiment and board other artifacts in. Torrential Gearhulk is very good in a 4x Cryptic deck and EE is also good in a 4C control deck. There is some tension with EE and Emperion being good against similar things but I think overall it works. Etched Oracle and Batterskull are also maybe worth considering.

    - I added 1 Fetid Pools because I think I wanted another land. The curve of the deck is relatively high. UB is the most in-demand color pair so it's nice to have another fetchable UB land, cycling helps mitigate flood and it's also nice that it can turn Pulse of Murasa into a cantrip. The rest of the manabase seems to work pretty well. Having that large number of basics looks greedy in a deck with so many color requirements, but it seems to work and it's important now because it means your opponent can't use Field of Ruin to lock you off casting spells.

    - Electrolyze got cut for being too expensive/slow, I think the rest of the deck is already too full of value cards and the deck needs more efficient interaction. Could be ok in the SB or in specific metagames.

    - In the SB Shimian Specter was added as a high-impact Anti-Combo BTL bullet that gets around Leyline of Sanctity. A 4 (or 5) mana 2/2 is probably safe in G2 because against this kind of spell-value control deck the opponent is going to board most of their spot removal out. Leyline is a minor Achilles heel for this deck because it disables the 1 mana discard, the Mind Rot Pact mode, and you can't donate Pact to the opponent either. It's relatively simple to kill a Leyline with BTL-> Maelstrom Pulse but that's a hoop you would rather not have to jump through

    - Languish is good over 2nd Damnation as it goes through Selfless Spirit, and vs Meddling Mage it's important that you have sweepers with different names. (It also goes through Totem Armor on a small Bogle, but it is relatively difficult to find a window to do this. If the popularity of that deck remains high I would also consider playing 1 SB Barter in Blood, but I don't know if this is ideal either with the White Cartouche and Dryad Arbor to play around it. Back to Nature is always an option).

    - One change I would consider is -1 Push or -1 Decay, +1 Terminate, or +1 Bolt. There are also still a few sideboard slots that are 'free' / unconfirmed.


    Overall I think this is one of the better brews I have come up with for modern (and there have been many...). The power level of Demonic Pact is so high (4 mana for Divination, Mind Rot, W-Helix) that wins often seem to just 'fall into place'. With the old style of BUWG Gifts deck (or Esper Teachings) if the opponent wasn't just dead to Unburial Rites into Elesh Norn or Iona it often felt like you had to work way too hard to stay on top of whatever they were doing, because your deck wasn't proactive enough and you would eventually draw situational cards in the wrong spots. Playing a similar deck with a combo kill that also puts you 5 cards ahead before going off seems like a major upgrade.

  3. #3

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