maralen of the morningsong

Who played Dungeons and Dragons in their youth? Dark elves were some seriously bad dudes in that game. It might not surprise you much to learn that black is my favorite color in Magic. Every deck I’ve brewed for this series is black and some other color. So when I saw that Magic has black elves, I just had to have me some.

Glissa is mostly green, so she doesn’t count. Only one double-black elf has inspired a deck, and it’s this one – Maralen of the Mornsong.

How crazy is that effect? Tutor whatever card you want! Cool right? Ok, wait, let’s think this through carefully.

Hmm. That is a seriously bad idea – giving your opponent the chance to tutor a card first, so they can kill you, and you never get to tutor anything. Maybe this deck is a really stupid ide– nah, let’s just go for it!

Shivers and Shakes

Shivers and Shakes is a deck that gives your opponent indigestion with Delver of Secrets and Nightveil Specter, before giving them chest-constricting heartburn with Maralen of the Mornsong, leading into the shivering, cold-sweat nightmare of Ob Nixilis, Unshackled. To keep your opponent from killing you with their first tutor, the deck has numerous counter spells.

There’s one important caveat to the Maralen-Ob Nixilis combo – you need to have a total of six lands (on the battlefield and in your hand) before casting Maralen. Otherwise you will need to tutor first for land, a bad idea.

Unless, of course… unless you have Bitter Revelation in your hand to dig for more land. Which brings us to the issue of card draw.

Shutting down all forms of card draw is indeed a powerful effect. It was better during the reign of Treasure Cruise but is still relevant against many decks in the meta. It is especially useful if you can still put cards in your hand using the various ‘reveal and keep’ mechanics that do not use the keyword ‘draw.’ Fact or Fiction would be perhaps the best choice here, but I didn’t pick up any copies in time for this article. I had Bitter Revelation in my collection so I went with that.

Let it be said, however, that a stronger version of this deck (such as my paper version) includes Jace, Architect of Thought and Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver as stronger methods to build card advantage. They allow Maralen to come down as early as turn 3 (tutoring for Ashiok on turn 4 if you are playing a creature deck, or Jace to get another card or two immediately).

I mention those cards because they change the deck into something that can truly give your opponent the shivers. But let’s stick within our budget! This is what we have:

Shivers and Shakes (Modern)

Lands (24)
Drowned Catacomb
Exotic Orchard
Bojuka Bog
Dimir Aqueduct
Dismal Backwater
Island
Swamp

Creatures (15)
Oona’s Gatewarden
Delver of Secrets
Nightveil Specter
Maralen of the Mornsong
Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Spells (21)
Dispel
Despise
Duress
Extirpate
Mana Leak
Negate
Dissipate
Soul Manipulation
Quash
Bitter Revelation
Aetherize
Murder
Sideboard (15)
Echoing Truth
Trickbind
Dissipate
Aetherize
Quash
Memoricide
Murderous Cut
Nihil Spellbomb

Ideal gameflow

T1: Play a Delver. Cross your fingers. Duress or Despise are also an option.
T2: If you crossed your fingers properly, your Delver flips. Keep Mana Leak mana open.
T3: Play a Nightveil Specter. Duress or Despise here – anything to throw off your opponent’s game plan.
T4: Another Delver or Specter, or counter spell mana open.
T5: If you have enough land, play Maralen here. It is highly preferable that you have 5 land down and keep Mana Leak open to deal with whatever your opponent tutors.
T6: Tutor for Ob Nixilis and play it. If your opponent can’t counter or remove it, you should win the game.
T7: If Ob Nixilis did not work, swing with Delvers and Specters and hope for the best!

Sideboard

Aetherize, Echoing Truth and Murderous Cut will be the most frequently picked replacements, and a smattering of additional counter spells and strippers round out the sideboard. More testing is needed to see what this deck really needs here.

Let me know what you’d add or change in the comments!

Here are some videos of the deck in action.

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