The Stuff of Nightmares
In 2007, the Duel Decks: Elves vs. Goblins product released. After Peanut saw the first set, he thought he could do better than Wizards of the Coast, so he did (at least in my opinion). More specifically, he made an Atog deck. Now, years later, he feels it's time to find its worthy opponent in the form of Nightmares!
Of course, I can't just fill the deck with rares and mythics and be done with it. Wizards has to limit their duel decks from this and I wanted a realistic facsimile, down to the pseudo-singleton nature of the duel decks to the price tag. To meet this goal, I set some rules, which were a maximum of six rares, 24 or 25 lands total, a 60-card deck, and not too many doubles or playsets. It also had to have a certain theme or tribal orientation, since that is core to duel decks.
I've created a few decks to pair with my Atog deck, from Insects to Elephants and even a Karn, Silver Golem deck. None of these really stuck, but Nightmares might be the true partner for Atogs. So, without further ado, lets discuss Atogs and go through the process of building the Nightmare half of these duel decks!
The Atog Side of Things
Let me start off with the decklist I put together years ago for the Atogs. It's still one of the coolest decks I've ever created and will stay intact for the rest of my Magic-years. In fact, it just got updated with Modern Horizons. It's also 100% foil!
Since I'm not going through the whole process of this particular decklist, check it out and see all the glorious combinations and synergies this deck has to offer. To summarize: white, red and green are the main colors, utilizing an aura and artifact sacrifice theme.
W/U/B/R/G Atog Duel Deck, Casual Constructed, Jelle-Thijs Zoetmulder
Living the Nightmare
To create this new adversary, we first need to ensure it isn't the same thing as the preconstructed deck from Torment: Waking Nightmares. Still, I need a couple of cards from it, or else I won't have enough Nightmares. It is also important to make sure the deck is balanced relative to the power of the Atog deck. This means skipping cards like Laquatus's Champion. Flavor is important as well, as duel decks need to have a strong flavor element, so we need to find flavor texts and art that fits the deck, provided the cards are powerful enough of course. Below you can see my first draft (deckbuilding is a constantly evolving process).
U/B/R Nightmare Duel Deck, Casual Constructed, Jelle-Thijs Zoetmulder
Chainer, Dementia Master: My all-time favorite Commander, a badass card, and the one and only true Nightmare Lord. The deck wouldn't be perfect without him! It's a strong card that creates more Nightmares and give them a boost. Just watch out for that leave clause. But that's what makes it fair.
Metallic Mimic: I was going for a slight aggro build for the Nightmares. The Mimic fits in nice, becoming a Nightmare and makes the rest of the deck a lot better. I picked this card over Adaptive Automaton and powerful cards like Door of Destinies because I felt the others were a bit too strong and that the boost from Metallic Mimic is permanent, even if the Mimic is removed.
Dream Eater: It was either this or Doom Whisperer. I went with the eater because it requires timing, whereas the repeatable nature of Whisperer on a 5 mana flying 6/6 is just too strong. Dream Eater will definitely be hard enough to deal with, and the fact that it gets flashed in gives it an extra gameplay dimension. I didn't want Petradon since that would be too similar to the preconstructed deck.
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver: I had my doubts including this crazy card. It will require some testing to see if this is possible as the key card for this Duel Deck. Where Atogatog is the "leader" of the Atog Duel Deck, Ashiok is for the Nightmares. Not immediately busted when dropped, but strong in the right circumstances. Stealing Nightmare Atogs sounds great anyways!
Infernal Offering: I noticed there were a lot of creatures in this deck. I needed some extra pack-a-punch, but it needed to be fair. This card from the Commander set made it to the final cut. Both players are affected and keeps the game going. It also fitted the flavor of the deck with its name.
Kindred Charge: Since the color red is the splash of this deck, I wanted a good reason to have it. The Nightmares are a bit aggro-ish, and curving out with this at the top seemed like a cool strategy. It won't always be possible, but it's lethal if combined with Soul Scourge. Just be sure you get to kill your opponent, or else they will regain the life lost!
Dread Presence: At the time I was typing this, the M20 spoilers provided a cool new Nightmare. This could be added! I think switching out Infernal Offering for this guy could be a good idea, together with Tainted Peak. Rakdos Carnarium will take the lands place, giving you an extra swamp drop for Presence.
Scare Tactics: This card is a gem flavor-wise. It's not very good, but the name fits perfectly! In Duel Decks, every point of life counts. It does match with the aggro plan and when I saw it, I just HAD to add it.
Manaforge Cinder: A target to convert into a Nightmare with Chainer. It can also mana fix if needed and it's a nice one-drop to keep the aggro game going.
Psychic Symbiont: I actually wanted two of these in the deck, but I'm thinking that could be a bit too strong. So much card draw together with discard is really something. Don't forget that Chainer can revive these beasts and, together with the Kindred Charge, it's almost overkill!
Sleeping Potion: Where do you encounter Nightmares? Exactly.
Nightmare's Thirst: This card requires timing. Use it with the land drops that gain you life, the Banehounds or maybe something you steal with Ashiok. When Dread Presence is in the deck list, it's even stronger of course.
Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite
I managed to get all the cards for the deck as by the time you're reading this! As such, I plan on testing these out to see if the decks are evenly matched. I'm hoping that you feel inspired by this way of playing. Magic is a wide, wide game and you do yourself a disservice if you don't think about the myriad ways in which you can approach the game and have fun. Ninjas versus Goats? Noncreatures versus creatures? Krakens versus Hydra's? Go wild!
Write below if you have a great idea for a duel deck. I know I have a lot of different options still for this deck, but this would be my take on it. If you have tips or better suggestions, please let me know! I'll gladly hear what you would do or add.
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