Barbed Servitor is a Blast

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Dive into the excitement surrounding Barbed Servitor in MTG. Discover why this card is a blast to play, with strategies and deck ideas that showcase its power.

Why Is This Deck?

I’m a firm believer that Stuffy Doll and Stuffy Doll-adjacent cards are made for janksters like myself. Whether it’s Brash Taunter, or Ill-Tempered Loner, there are always bizarre combos just waiting to be discovered. Murders at Karlov Manor introduced a new Stuffy Doll to the mix with Barbed Servitor and this deck aims to abuse its unique set of abilities to drain our opponent out in a way they won’t see coming.

Total Cards:

The Unique Skills

Magic the Gathering Card - Barbed Servitor - MTG Circle

Unlike the Ill-Tempered Loner before it, the Barbed Servitor comes indestructible. It also, unfortunately is usually unable to block because it enters the battlefield and gets suspected. While this does fit flavorfully as we should always suspect the butler, it does cut off one of the most reliable sources of damage to such creatures. Instead, it generally relies on awkward double blocks by our opponents to force life loss in place of giving us card draw.

Magic the Gathering Card - Witchstalker Frenzy - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - March Of Wretched Sorrow - MTG Circle

With other Stuffy Doll effects, you can abuse damage doublers to quadruple damage output, but because Servitor forces life loss on our opponents, this doesn’t really help. Instead, we can abuse its indestructible nature by using burn spells that are under costed because they can normally only hit creatures. Witchstalker Frenzy and March Of Wretched Sorrow can effectively hit our opponent in the face if they target our own Servitor, so you want to save them into the late game if you can.

Magic the Gathering Card - Burn Down the House - MTG Circle

And, of course, we have Burn Down the House in the list because if we find ourselves in need of a board clear while the Servitor is live, we can blast most creatures while also hitting our opponent’s face. This card also has a very fun synergy if you get to use the devil-generating mode with the card we’re about to talk about. The devils are, after all, creatures with power two or less that can trigger on death.

The Enabler

Magic the Gathering Card - Delney, Streetwise Lookout - MTG Circle

Delney, Streetwise Lookout got a lot of press on day one of this set because of their ability to empower a lot of small creature strategies through mass evasion and trigger-doubling. Both of these effects align perfectly with eh Servitor because both the card draw AND life loss are triggered abilities. If Delney is on the field, a Witchstalker Frenzy hitting Barbed Servitor will force our opponent to lose ten life. With March of Wretched Sorrow being able to go much higher than that if we have cards to pitch, you can imagine how much damage we can stack up if Delney and our Servitor are able to coexist.

Additional Support

This combo is powerful and fun, but it relies on creatures to function, so we need to encourage our opponents to spend their removal elsewhere. So we have a few additional threats that can pull focus and hopefully get those kill spells out of the way.

Magic the Gathering Card - Doorkeeper Thrull - MTG Circle

This one may seem odd since we like Delney supporting triggers, but you’ll notice none of the triggers in our deck are beneficial ETBs. Instead, we have the Thrull to counter our opponent’s strategies like Topiary Stomper or Atraxa while also preventing Barbed Servitor’s ETB where it becomes suspected. By eliminating the suspect ETB, Servitor is able to freely block any ground attackers and soak up additional damage if the opportunity presents itself.

Magic the Gathering Card - Hunted Bonebrute - MTG Circle

The skeletal doggo/beast here has overperformed for me whenever I use it. Six menace power is a massive deal, even if two toughness makes it incredibly squishy. If you can curve a Doorkeeper Thrull into a Hunted Bonebrute, your opponent doesn’t get the dogs and you now have a six-power attacker that will bolt them if it’s killed. As you can see, this represents a pretty nasty threat that they’re likely to answer before we’ve mobilized our combo. This is also my favorite kind of feign setup because if they don’t answer it, they’ll still lose the game.

Magic the Gathering Card - Preacher Of The Schism - MTG Circle

Preacher of the Schism is one of the best three-drops we’ve seen in Standard recently. It’s generically strong enough to include in any black aggro or midrange strategy, but it also synergizes perfectly with Delney and it doesn’t get hosed by Doorkeeper Thrull. The fact that it is a card draw engine to give us our combo pieces or provide us fuel for March of Wretched Sorrow pitches in the late game makes this card a perfect fit for what we’re doing.

The Synergy Sideboard

Magic the Gathering Card - Brotherhood's End - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Knockout Blow - MTG Circle

When determining what to put in the sideboard, I leaned into the damage application of our primary combo. Cards like Brotherhood’s End and Knockout Blow are already good sideboard options int heir colors, but they have the added benefit here of being able to damage a Servitor and apply lethal damage in the late game.

Magic the Gathering Card - Pilfer - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Chimil, The Inner Sun - MTG Circle

Against grindier matchups, additional copies of Chimil, the Inner Sun give the deck more card advantage late while also stuffing opposing counterspells. Pilfer and Duress also offer key hand hate against counterspells to make sure your combo can set up and fire.

Don’t Win More

Magic the Gathering Card - Bloodletter of Aclazotz - MTG Circle

In early versions of this deck, I included Bloodletter of Aclazotz because it was an additional way to double life loss from Servitor’s trigger. I quickly realized that adding a triple-pipped mana cost in a three-color deck (without a triome in Standard) was just too difficult to cast. Additionally, the effect was redundant with Delney and just too difficult to set up. While Bloodletter is a great card, the lower-cost synergies we discussed above can get the job done and adding higher-cost cards like this can make that more efficient gameplan less consistent.

Magic the Gathering Card - Vein Ripper - MTG Circle

Vein Ripper was also suggested during my brew stream and I wanted to call it out here too. Vein ripper is an amazing card, but this deck can’t abuse its trigger easily, so it simply represents another generic threat for the opponent to fear. While that’s not inherently a bad thing, it also represents a six-drop that can get stuck in our hand and never see the light of day. WotC knew what they were doing when they put this effect on such a large body to justify its casting cost. Don’t be lured in by large mana value setup cards like this unless you have very strong synergies and/or ramp.

A Group Effort

As a Twitch streamer, I’m fortunate to have a community of likeminded brewers to bounce ideas off of or glean inspiration from. Normally, the origin of each idea gets lost in the discussion and I’m unable to give proper credit, instead needing to use royal we’s and simply thank the folks in the moment. In this case, however, I can directly thank Twitch user SirJoseff for sparking interest in this build with their own take and Yukfoozi for providing a large number of the cards suggested here.

Graham, also known as HamHocks42 on the internet, is a Twitch streamer who adores Magic: the Gathering in all its forms and tries to find the fun, even in the most competitive and sweaty environments.
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