Trials and Tribal-ations Bonus- W/B Clerics

This week we’re taking a step back from the classic mono-colored tribes, and taking a look at a tribe that might not be as obvious a grouping as some others.  The cleric type has been printed on some great cards through the years, but you may not have noticed the creature type.  Academy Rector, Eight-and-a-Half Tails, Ethersworn Canonist, and Mother of Runes are just a few that claim the Cleric subtype.  In Standard Leonin Relic-Warder and the new sensation Geist of Saint Traft are both Clerics.  The type isn’t constrained to the white piece of the color pie, however.  On the other side there are black aligned Clerics, diligently serving darker forces.  The Onslaught block was among the first to explore the darker side of the Cleric tribe, and as the Lorwyn block did for Merfolk, Onslaught provided Clerics with not only powerful creatures, but also non-creature spells specifically designed to support them.   Let’s talk a bit about what it means to be a Cleric in Magic.  Traditionally white Clerics specialize in damage prevention, sometimes for creatures, sometimes for players.  Preventing two points of damage certainly isn’t flashy, but when you’re preventing five or ten points of damage at a time with stacked effects, you can see how it might become hard to deal with.  White Clerics also like to gain life in a number of ways.  Black Clerics, on the other hand, like to drain life from the opponent.  They also have a habit of summoning big, nasty creatures to do their fighting for them.  Here’s a first look at a build for B/W Clerics:



4 Soul Warden

4 Soul’s Attendant

4 Suture Priest

4 Serra Ascendant

3 Skirsdag High Priest

3 Vile Deacon



3 Profane Prayers

4 Doom Blade

1 Beacon of Immortality

2 Necrologia



2  Sanguine Bond



1 Liliana Vess


Basic Land:

9 Plains

8 Swamp


Non-Basic Land:

4 Orzvhov Basilica

4 Starlit Sanctum


This deck has some fun interactions.  First off, the combination of Soul Warden, Soul’s Attendant, Suture Priest, and Serra Ascendant is not a new one.  These ladies were grouped together in Standard not long ago, and were given the nickname Soul Sisters.  The idea behind Soul Sisters is simply to stack life gain triggers quickly with low cost creatures, and start beating your opponent down with one or more 6/6 Flying, Lifelink Serra Ascendants ASAP.  Skirsdag High Priest‘s ability finds extra use for the smaller Clerics, allowing them to tap and summon a 5/5 Demon token, rather than enter combat on their own.  Vile Deacon requires little explanation, his purpose is to be as big as possible and occupy the red zone.

Another trick this deck has access to is the Sanguine Bond/Beacon of Immortality combination.  A resolved Beacon of Immortality while you are at 20 or more life means a Sanguine Bond trigger will be lethal.  Profane Prayers allows you to deal with creatures, or drain life directly from an opponent while you gain that much life (doubling their life loss if you have a Sanguine Bond out).  With Sanguine Bond out, even Serra Ascendant’s Lifelink is effectively Double Strike.  Even if blocked, Serra Ascendant gains life, and Sanguine Bond drains that much life from your opponent.  In Magic we refer to this as “not nice“.

Necrologia uses your life as a resource.  In most cases, your life is an arbitrary number representing how much damage you can ignore before losing.  You can’t really DO anything with it.  A card like Necrologia allows you to put your life total to work for you, in this case filling your hand with spells that actually do something.  Liliana Vess is there to help you search out Sanguine Bond, Beacon of Immortality, Profane Prayers, or whatever you need to seal the game up in your favor.  If you’re sitting pretty on the way to victory, she can help by just tearing apart your opponents hand piece by piece.  Finally there’s the Cleric land, Starlit Sanctum.  You may never use it, but the Sanctum is there if you need it, possibly gaining you the life you need to “activate” your Serra Ascendant, or to drain the last two points from your opponent, or even to activate the Skirsdag High Priest’s Morbid ability in a pinch.

That first list plays mainly with Clerics’ abilities to manipulate life totals.  Staying in the Halloween spirit, let’s look at some Clerics that are active in the dark art of reanimation:



4 Dark Supplicant

4 Academy Rector

4 Rotlung Reanimator

2 Celestial Gatekeeper

1 Scion of Darkness



4 Forbidden Alchemy

4 Doom Blade

3 Altar’s Reap

4 Unearth

1 Moan of the Unhallowed



2 Endless Ranks of the Dead

1 Intangible Virtue

1 Xenograft


Basic Land:

6 Island

10 Swamp

1 Plains


Non-Basic Land: 

4 Terramorphic Expanse

4 Arcane Sanctum


Here we see a group of Clerics who are working together to usher in a Zombie Apocalypse.  The idea is to find a Rotlung Reanimator and start sacrificing your Clerics for value, producing zombies with the Reanimator’s trigger.  Once Academy Rector hits the table, she can be sacrificed (after attacking, of course) and removed from your graveyard to ‘tutor’ for one of the enchantments in your toolbox.  Endless Ranks of the Dead builds your zombie army, Intangible Virtue gives your army +1/+1 and Vigilance.  Finally  Xenograft can be used either to give your Clerics the additional Zombie subtype to get more tokens from Endless Ranks, or to give your Zombies the additional Cleric subtype to sacrifice to Dark Supplicant, and/or get more Zombie Clerics from Rotlung Reanimator‘s triggers.

These are a couple of possible Cleric builds.  There are many other things to explore in the tribe, as well.  If you enjoy torturing your opponent, you can put together a Cleric list that will prevent all the damage they could do each turn.  There are plenty more options for token decks, lifegain decks, and beatdown decks.  Here’s a list of Clerics to help you with some ideas:

Card Name Set Name Function 1 Function 2 Color
Academy Rector UL Tutor Enchantments W
Akroma’s Devoted LE Combat W
Ancestor’s Prophet JU Life W
Angus MacKenzie LG Fog Legendary WUG
Auriok Champion FD Life Protection W
Battlefield Medic ON Prevent Dmg W
Battletide Alchemist MOR Prevent Dmg W
Beloved Champion OD Protection W
Blind Zealot NPH Removal B
Celestial Gatekeeper LG Graveyard W
Confessor OD Life Discard W
Doomed Necromancer ON Graveyard B
Doubtless One ON Life Beats W
Edgewalker SC Value WB
Eight-and-a-Half Tails COK Lengendary Protection W
Entomber Exarch NPH Graveyard Control B
Ethersworn Canonist ALA Artifacts Control W
False Prophet UD Sweeper W
Fiend Hunter ISD Removal W
Fountain Watch MM Artifact Enchantments W
Geist of Saint Traft ISD Hexproof Beats UW
Grand Abolisher M12 Control W
Headhunter ON Control Morph B
Infernal Caretaker LE Morph Zombies B
Kaalia the Vast CMD Value Commander BRW
Kemba, Kha Regent SOM Equipment Tokens W
Kor Sanctifiers ZEN Removal W
Leonin Arbiter SOM Control W
Leonin Relic-Warder MBS Removal W
Loxodon Hierarch RAV Regenerate GW
Mikaeus, The Lunarch ISD Counters W
Monk Idealist US Enchantments W
Mother of Runes UL Protection W
Nomad Mythmaker JU Enchantments W
Order of the Stars GDP Protection W
Order of Whiteclay SHM Graveyard W
Orzhoz Pontiff GDP Beats Removal WB
Profane Prayers ON Life Removal B
Rotlung Reanimator ON Zombies B
Skirsdag High Priest ISD Tokens B
Soul Warden Core Sets Life W
Soul’s Attendant ROE Life W
Suture Priest NPH Life W
Transcendent Master ROE Level Up Beats W
Vile Deacon LE Beats B
Weathered Wayfarer ON Lands W
Starlit Sanctum ON Land N/A

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