M14: Barrage of Expendables and the B/R sacrifice deck

The final enchantment left to evaluate is Barrage of Expendables. Its value will depend on 6 factors:

  • How many must-kill creatures and flyers have 1 toughness.
  • How many spells steal opponents’ creatures.
  • How many cards can an opponent play that would cause you to want to sacrifice a creature.
  • How many creatures provide a benefit when sacrificed.
  • How many creatures don’t mind being sacrificed.
  • Its effect relative to other sacrifice outlets.

Referring back to the spreadsheet of creatures in M14, we see that of the must-kill creatures, 2 of the 8 commons, 2 of the 6 uncommons, 4 of the 15 rares, and neither of the 2 mythics have 1 toughness. This means that 27% of the must-kill creatures in an average draft will have 1 toughness. Similarly, of the flyers in M14, 3 of the 10 commons, none of the 5 uncommons, 1 of the 7 rares, and none of the 3 mythics have 1 toughness, so 23% of the flyers in a typical draft will have 1 toughness. In addition, Barrage of Expendables can work with Shock and other removal spells to take down larger creatures. You can also sacrifice 2+ creatures to kill an opposing creature, but that’s unlikely to be a common occurrence.

Sacrifice effects combo especially well with effects that steal creatures temporarily and M14 has Act of Treason which is also red. In fact, unless you’re playing R/B, the only sacrifice effects a red deck has access to are Barrage of Expendables, Bubbling Cauldron, and Trading Post (a rare), and neither of the artifacts offer an impressive benefit for the sacrifice. If you have a couple of Act of Treasons, Barrage of Expendables could be worth picking up, especially if you don’t have other sacrifice effects yet. M14 also has Domestication, which steals the creature permanently. However, as we determined previously, there are a number of ways for the owner of the creature to pump its power and get the creature back, and Barrage of Expendables can help protect against that too.

M14 also has a few effects that may cause you to want to sacrifice a creature in response to an opponent’s spell. While M14 doesn’t have anything like Pillory of the Sleepless, you may want to sacrifice a creature that your opponent is trying to steal with Act of Treason or Domestication. In addition, you may on rare occasion want to sacrifice a creature in response to Congregate if your opponent is at a low life total and there aren’t many other creatures on the board.

Next, let’s look at creatures that you might want to sacrifice anyway because they provide a benefit when they die:

  • Blue: Messenger Drake (common), although you’d usually rather have a 3/3 flyer than do 1 damage to a creature
  • Black: Festering Newt (common), Dark Prophecy (rare), Xathrid Necromancer (rare)
  • Red: Pitchburn Devils (common), Dragon Egg (uncommon)
  • Green: Vastwood Hydra (rare)

Then, there are creatures that you don’t mind sacrificing, such as Tenacious Dead and Chandra’s Phoenix, or the tokens produced by Molten Birth (which produces an average of 4 tokens) and Sporemound. You might also want to sacrifice creatures if you have Planar Cleansing, Rise of the Dark Realms, Scavenging Ooze, or Haunted Plate Mail, although these are all rare/mythic so that board state won’t arise too often. Of these, Barrage of Expendables works especially well with Tenacious Dead since you can repeatedly do 1 damage to a creature or player for 1BR.

Given the analysis above, it seems like Barrage of Expendables would work best in a B/R deck since that has access to Act of Treason as well a handful of common and uncommon creatures that you’d want to sacrifice. Black does provide access to several other sacrifice effects (Altar’s Reap and Blood Bairn at common, and Gnawing Zombie and Vampire Warlord at uncommon), but Barrage of Expendables would be one of the better sacrifice effects in such a deck.

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