When I first saw the Immortal announcement, there was one part that stuck out to me as confusing: Hideous Conversion was on the watch list. The card has seen effectively 0 competitive play in recent memory, so why is it not only a card that Hex thinks is good enough to see play in Immortal, but potentially too good to be legal? I initially chalked it up to caution, Hideous Conversion is a powerful effect that may eventually become broken and is a reasonable card to be placed on the watch list for its potential alone. Would some Scars of War card come along and break it in half? Of course not, that would be absurd. Oh wait, Deathseeker is a card? Scrounge 4 on a 1 cost troop to return it to your hand whenever it dies? Maybe they were on to something putting Hideous Conversion on their watch list after all.
Deathseeker, when the Scrounge 4 is paid, returns to hand every time it dies. With a Hideous Conversion, not only do we have the tool to sacrifice our Deathseeker over and over again, but we also generate a resource each time to replay it. While this is nice, it doesn’t get us anywhere… yet. There are cards that can take advantage of our two card combo. Blood Bearer would gain us an arbitrarily large amount of life, a Profane Ritualist would grow arbitrarily large, Mindcall would give us limitless resources, and the new card, Wicked Webspawn, could make limitless Dreadlings and through Hideous Conversion, limitless resources. Wicked Webspawn actually killing them is great, but the rest of those cards are slightly underwhelming when put in the combo and all of them are frankly bad cards by themselves.
It would be nice if our mechanism to take advantage of Deathseeker + Hideous Conversion was a playable card or maybe something we always had access to, like our champion’s charge power. Wait, did I just say our charge power? Madame Anana_ is the perfect necrotic for the job. For 3 charges, our Deathseeker will create a phantom every time it dies, which means we can make as many phantoms as we like! If we have a Harvest of Sorrow in our hand, we can draw our entire deck and use the phantoms to play our Wicked Webspawn. Now we can Scrounge 1 each time through the loop giving the Deathseeker Rage 1 but more importantly make two Dreadlings, one of which can be sacrificed to scrounge again to make two more! Our end goal:
While that was only a turn 5 “kill,” I was also able to set up a Monsuun, Shogun of Winda’jin and shred my opponent’s hand with discard. In the previous game, I went off on turn 3. My opponent even had a Transmogrifade to stop my turn 3, but they used it on my Emperor’s Lackey because the Lackey applied significant pressure and they didn’t expect the combo.
You may be tempted to simply go all in on the combo, but I don’t think that will result in the best all around deck. Instead, I want to play a disruptive and synergistic aggressive deck that also happens to be able to kill people on turns 2 or 3 with a combo. How is it possible to fit all of that into one deck? Two words: Underworld Crusader. Underworld Crusader is so much more powerful than ordinary Hex cards that we can jam four into our deck and win games just by attacking with our 4/4s that also draw us cards when we die and can be used with Hideous Conversion to help us find what we are missing. Fulfilling the deckbuilding restriction on our crusaders should be simple as there are plenty of Underworld troops that can sacrifice things or don’t mind being sacrificed. Our main underworld troops are Naive Lackey draws a card when it dies, Spiritbound Spy is a couple of bodies that pair well with our champion power, because when it comes back as a phantom it will still have our champion power’s text on it, and Emperor’s Lackey is another cheap 4/4 that can do a great job being aggressive or defensive while offering us a secondary sacrifice outlet. I already mentioned Wicked Webspawn as being our card that lets us kill them immediately, Monsuun gives us a reasonable plan B against more controlling decks, Disciple of Yazukan plays well with all of the sacrificial fodder and our champion power, Warlock of Aetir is another sacrifice outlet that can let us kill our opponent in a hurry, and Dread Apprentice is an interesting new card that gives us a lot of sacrificial fodder when scrounged.
“You may be tempted to simply go all in on the combo, but I don’t think that will result in the best all around deck.”
Rounding out the deck are four copies of Harvest of Sorrow which can draw us our entire deck when we have the combo or a bunch of cards towards the combo if we are missing something, four copies of Shroomshaw which is three bodies for two cost, and three copies of Withering Touch, though maybe the full four would be optimal in the main. Withering Touch is excellent because it disrupts your opponent’s ability to interact with your combo or your aggressive plan and stops whatever broken shenanigans they are trying to pull off, like Titania’s Majesty, putting the “disruptive” in the “disruptive and synergistic aggro deck with a combo”.
4 Spiritbound Spy
4 Naive Lackey
4 Underworld Crusader (Minor Diamond of Life)
4 Emperor’s Lackey
1 Warlock of Aettir
1 Wicked Webspawn
1 Dread Apprentice
1 Monsuun, Shogun of Winda’jin
1 Disciple of Yazukan
4 Well of Retribution
2 Shard of Retribution
7 Blood Shard
7 Diamond Shard
In the reserves, I like extra Withering Touches and Withering Gazes, an extra Monsuun for grindy matchups, an extra Wicked Webspawn against decks where you don’t want to wait a turn to kill them with phantoms, Subtle Striker as a hate card that happens to be an Underworld troop, a Blood Bearer for the Angus and Yotul matchups, Solitary Exile as a catch all, Gruesome Deed as an answer for opposing Frost Wizards, and an Inquisitor’s Spite and a Death’s Head Rider to let us go over the top of whatever our opponent is doing. This may seem a little cute, but one of the few games I lost with this deck involved my opponent getting two copies of Eternal Guardian in play and bringing these two cards in would allow it to deal with whatever nonsense your opponent assembles. The DHR is a fine card by itself, and the Spite lets you repeatedly replay it with your overabundance of resources from conversion. Remember, Inquisitor’s Spite says “this turn” and not “the next time it dies.” I tend to be pretty sparing when reserving with this deck because you don’t want to dilute the primary game plan too much, but shaving a couple Shroomshaw, Spiritbound Spy, and Emperor’s Lackey should give you the room to bring in a couple of key cards. Monsuun comes out against Angus and Yotul for Blood Bearer because he is too slow.
The resource base is fairly simple as our threshold requirements are pretty light. I could imagine Sepulchra Crypt Dust is a card the deck wants to be playing as I have 13 Necrotics in the main deck, and with crypt dust and more fixing in general, it may be possible to go tri-shard and play Anana alongside Sapphire filtering and draw effects.
Why do I think this deck is great and close to the best version of Hideous Conversion combo (besides winning a lot with it)? History. Any Magic: the Gathering player will tell you good combo decks need interaction or a backup plan. If you fill your deck with cards that enable you to combo faster but are mostly useless, you don’t end up with a good deck and fold to most interaction. Splinter Twin and Birthing Pod are what I feel are the ancestors of this deck; those were decks that had access to combo kills that were relatively fast, but played normal games in the mean time. They interacted with the opponent and forced them to interact with a non-combo gameplan all while threatening to win out of nowhere. I have won almost as many games attacking with 4/4’s as I have with the combo, and to me, that speaks wonders as to the strength of the deck.
This isn’t the fastest build of Hideous Conversion combo, nor the most consistent at finding the two main combo pieces, but it has a reasonable aggressive plan, interacts with the opponent through discard, and only needs to find two cards instead of 3 or 4 in order to win. The deck does a lot of things that are inherently powerful and maybe efficient removal like Burn and powerful hate cards like Frost Wizard will keep it in check, but maybe it is completely broken and unfair. Will Hideous Conversion get banned? Possibly, but I know I will be playing it as long as it is legal.