Discard

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Discard is a control archetype built around forcing opponents to discard cards from their hand, often gaining additional benefits when opponents discard cards and/or when opponents have no cards in hand.

Discard decks almost always contain the color black.

Popular Cards & Commanders

Common cards found in discard decks include:

Common discard commanders include:

Strategy

Discard decks seek to disrupt their enemies by preventing them from having enough cards in hand to cast spells or make a meaningful impact on the battlefield. These decks usually rely on a combination of the following categories to achieve victory over their opposition:

Hand Disruption

The most straightforward way that discard decks can accomplish their agenda is through instants and sorceries that directly cause opponents to discard cards, such as Mind Twist, Arterial Flow, or Syphon Mind.
In combination with one-time sorceries, decks may also employ creatures, artifacts, and/or enchantments to cause opponents to discard cards over time, such as Fell Specter, Necrogen Mists, and Oppression.

Discard Synergy

Discard decks not only seek to force opponents to discard cards from their hand, but to accumulate additional value as their opponents' hands whittle down. Commanders like Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and enchantments like Liliana's Caress help discard players advance their own board state while simultaneously disrupting their enemies.
Discard decks may also use cards that specifically provide benefit when enemies have few or no cards left in hand. Shrieking Affliction and Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage are examples of this type.

Symmetrical Discard

Many discard decks will use effects that force each player to discard cards, rather than just opponents. Examples of this include Cunning Lethemancer, Delirium Skeins, Sire of Insanity, and Mindslicer. Such decks will usually employ cards that compensate for their own losses, such as Archfiend of Ifnir and Bone Miser, to dodge the downsides of symmetrical discard effects.
Some discard decks will also utilize recursion and reanimation as a means of breaking the symmetry of discard effects, so that they may continue to take game actions such as casting spells even without cards in hand. Kess, Dissident Mage and Chainer, Nightmare Adept are examples of commanders that may follow this discard strategy.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Discard decks have a unique strength over other control archetypes, because they are able to remove threats from their enemies before those threats are ever able to be played.
  • Discard severely restricts enemy plans by eliminating their resources. Opponents who carefully plan their turns and the sequence in which they will deploy their cards are often unable to maintain those plans from turn to turn, often because they are forced to choose between discarding powerful cards or discarding the resources that would allow them to play those powerful cards in the first place.

Weaknesses

  • If discard decks do not find 'payoff' cards that synergize or deal damage to their enemies after cards have been discarded, the lack of cards in players' hands can stall the game in a way that is not usually enjoyed by most players.
  • It is very easy for graveyard-based commanders to avoid the negative downsides of discard effects, as discard players may accidentally provide those players with the fuel their decks need to win the game.
  • Discard decks can be less effective against aggro strategies that already plan to quickly play all the cards in their hand in the first place, leaving them with little to discard. Because so many cards in discard decks affect players' hands, rather than the battlefield, this can leave the discard player vulnerable to on-board threats.


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