Bearer of Silence

bearer of silenceGather round, children, and I’ll tell you a story. It is the story of my Oath of the Gatewatch prerelease, yes, but it is also one of heartbreak, shattered hope, and a rekindled belief in a hero. More importantly, it is the story of Bearer of Silence.

So, I didn’t make it to the midnight prerelease for Oath of the Gatewatch, nor to any that ran on Saturday. So, Sunday I walked through the door of my LGS, and registered for whatever prerelease they were running, which, to my dismay, was 2 Headed Giant, a format I have never excelled at. Rather than shift blame onto my teammates on the rare occasion I’ve had to play 2HG, I’ll just admit that I’m not particularly adept at the format and move on.

I and the poor soul who got to be my teammate went 0-4. Which brings me to Bearer of Silence. You see, my teammate and I had each opened one, mine being my prerelease foil, and between that and a couple other good rares and removal, we thought we had a solid couple of decks, me on a Red/Green “Go Big” plan, and him with a Black/White value deck. I even felt that we played well, taking most of our opponents to game 3. Unfortunately, my key creatures always drew out the most timely removal spells, and I didn’t have enough burn or “fight” cards to answer the threats my teammate couldn’t. Bearer of Silence failed to be as good as we both had appraised it initially.

A disappointing prerelease, though my disappointment was tempered by the nice new cards I got. Opening full art basic lands just feels good. Anyway, I put away my prerelease foil and quietly traded to fill out my play set. Yes, Bearer of Silence had failed to impress, but I still saw some potential. I truly believe that it could be a permanent fixture in Standard for a while. This, of course is based on a few assumptions I’m making about what decks will be good, and I certainly am not drawing this conclusion based on my prerelease (that would be folly anyway, since that was Sealed, not Standard.)

Flash forward a few weeks. I was playing the Abzan Displacer list I had posted a while back, minus the Zulaport Cutthroats and Brood Monitors, and was having difficulty against a newer Abzan build that didn’t have a lot of tools that would be gone post rotation, such as Siege Rhino and Abzan Charm (I’m pretty sure he was still running fetchlands.) I was losing game after game to him, despite being pretty close games. I noticed he was running Bearer of Silence, and finally after four straight losses, I decided to bring in my playset. I won every game with that opponent for the rest of the day.

The following FNM I went 2-2, and I felt the two matches I lost can be very solidly blamed on my gameplay, rather than my build. I made some poor play decisions in both matches, which went to game three in both cases. It wouldn’t really do anyone any good to post that list here, but I’ve been toying with the deck since, so here’s the list I’ll be looking to pilot the first week of SOI Standard.

Black/White/Colorless Eldrazi

4 Sludge Crawler
4 Bearer of Silence
4 Eldrazi Displacer
4 Wasteland Strangler
4 Thought-Knot Seer
3 Reality Smasher
1 Priest of the Blood Rite
1 Inverter of Truth

4 Ruinous Path
2 Grasp of Darkness
2 Silkwrap
2 Languish

4 Evolving Wilds
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Blighted Fen
2 Shambling Vent
2 Wastes
4 Swamp
4 Plains

I won’t post the sideboard, since the list is likely to change. I haven’t gotten my hands on much of anything from SOI yet, but I’ll be looking to grab a set of Westvale Abbey and Declaration in Stone ASAP, and filling out the playset of Shambling Vents seems like it would be good in this deck. I’ll also be turning a critical eye to the games where I get to cast Inverter of Truth, since I’m not convinced it’ll pull its weight, and playing multiples strikes me as asking for trouble. Not exactly the most innovative deck, but it should have a solid game against an uncertain field, especially with the simplified manabase compared to Abzan.

Now, in the past, I have bandied about with such terms as “best card in Standard.” Coming back around to Bearer of Silence, it just isn’t that kind of card. That kind of card is splashy, and not only can take over the game on its own, it usually will. That kind of card isn’t dependent so much on what the opponent is up to. No, Bearer of Silence is a more specialized tool, one made for, let’s call it a smaller subset of problems.

So, let’s address what it won’t do for you. As a 2/1, it usually won’t survive if it’s blocked, and it can’t block, so don’t bother. As a 2/1 Flyer for 1B that can’t block, it’s serviceable at best and miserably ineffective at worst. This isn’t the creature you want when your mana is constricted or you’ve got a swarm of Zombies attacking you (or thopters, or goblins, or spirits, etc.) It’s also not great when your opponent has creature tokens or low value creatures like Blisterpod, Elvish Visionary or Carrier Thrall.

Which makes it kind of funny that where this card shines is its cast trigger. Notice that this is a trigger you get for casting the card, which means, like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, you get its effect even if the creature gets countered. Let’s just take a second to pretend Wizards made this card:

Kill A Creature
2BC
Sorcery
Kill A Creature can’t be countered by spells or abilities.
Target opponent sacrifices a creature.

That strikes me as playable, and while maybe not exciting in terms of a removal spell, able to hit some major threats such as Dragonlord Ojutai, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Archangel Avacyn, and Reality Smasher, all while safe from countermagic. Slap a 2/1 body onto it with evasion, and, well, that’s what Bearer of Silence is. Thin the enemy numbers, then start attacking in the air. At that point, you really don’t care whether your opponent just takes the damage, or even better, spend a removal spell. That’s what you call a 2 for 1.

Best card in Standard? Nah. That title probably belongs to Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy or maybe Thought-Knot Seer. It’s debatable anyway. Bearer of Silence strikes me as closer in utility to a card like Blighted Fen, another removal spell that hasn’t really gotten its due yet. Both are subtly powerful tools that do a passable job early in the game, and the payoff is that they don’t take up a spell slot.

Will it be a format staple? Given that it can slot into pretty much any black deck that has a few colorless producing utility lands, and that it can straight up kill a creature without worrying about counter magic, I’d say it’s got potential. Of course, I could turn out wrong, the stars don’t align right, and black has enough removal that our poor 2/1 friend gets forgotten. Ruinous Path certainly makes a good argument for being able to target Planeswalkers and making a body that can block. I think there’s a place for Bearer of Silence though. Guess I’ll have to go play some Magic to find out.

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